Research for Writers: The Joys and The Frustrations

by | Feb 26, 2016 | writing

I am currently working on the sequel to “The Lady Bornekova“. In fact, I am away on a long weekend to get some serious work done on the manuscript. A place where I am free from my normal distractions of life. And I am LOVING it. But this book is requiring a LOT of research. I may be the odd ball, or maybe I’m like every other Historical Fiction writer, I have a love-hate relationship with research. Here’s why:


beta readerThe Learning. You learn so many cool things when you research. Plot lines, story lines, and interesting characters come to light when you do your research. Believe me, truth is stranger than fiction sometimes (and can be far more interesting). ESPECIALLY when these interesting tidbits are woven into fiction. Then you’ve got the potential for something amazing!

The Depth of Knowledge. One of the things that most Historical Fiction writers who really know how to research well (I do not count myself among them – I’m still new at this, I’m just sharing my knowledge), will encourage you to look for books on your subject. As opposed to simply research for that one tidbit of information that you need. Why? Because you don’t know what you don’t know. What do I mean by that? Well, there are those interesting twists, plots, and characters that you may not know about that happened/existed during that time period that would be pure gold in your story that you wouldn’t think to look up. And you’ll never know about them unless you read up about that time period or subject.

bunny trailsThe Bunny Trails. Piggy backing on my previous point, bunny trails can lead you to a gold mine of information if you are prudent with your time and focus. Otherwise, they can be a time drain.


hourglass1The Time Drain. Right now I would just love to sit down and crank out this book, but that’s not possible. There is a lot of research between me and the rest of this manuscript. Research I did before hand, and I decided, in this case, to research as I’m writing. This is not a negative thing. Research sparks your storyline, but as you write, it can spark a direction to your research as well. But, no matter how you slice it, research takes time and effort. And it’s time and effort, I would rather put into writing sometimes.

bunny trailsThe Bunny Trails. I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, that’s not right! You put this in both categories!” That’s because it belongs in both categories. Remember how I said bunny trails can be a time drain? They can be. And they can lead you no where. That’s the down side.

boringSometimes…and I’m just going to say it…it can be boring. Can’t believe I said it, can you? Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE history. And I love learning new things. But I am not one for learning more about the nuances of battles and war. Well, this sequel takes place during the first part of the Hussite WARS. So, guess what I’m doing a ton of research on? You got it – battles, war, and the like. Not the most interesting thing I’ve ever researched. But there are gems to be found. The fact that this misfit army made up of farmers and working class laborers overcame such odds against well-trained armies. Amazing. And it really happened.

So, all in all, there are ups and downs on the research trail. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Happy writing!


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Sara R. Turnquist